Sometimes photography involves hours of patience…then there’s Steptoe Butte.
I’m no landscape photographer. For one, it’s way to tempting to HDR the hell out of landscapes. Also, there’s too much competition. And thirdlyiest, I don’t have the patience or time to wait 6 hours in one spot for anything. Didn’t do it for my cousin’s Catholic wedding mass marathon, didn’t do it to get a Snuggie at Wal-Mart on Black Friday, and I definitely wouldn’t do it for a pretty shot of a 100-year-old barn at sunset that would probably end up on a faded 11 x 14 on the ceiling of a dentist’s office. Actually, I’d be honored if my dentist did that.
Maybe I should be more patient but I tend to put most of my photographic embryos in one fertile basket, spending most of my time trying to coordinate with athletes and making sure they have pretty colors to wear so that we can go out for an hour or two and eins, zwei, drei, we blitzkrieg the hell out of it, get the goods, and helicopter back to the LZ.
A couple weeks ago though, I made a solo trip to Steptoe Butte State Park just off Highway 195 in eastern Washington. The thimble-like beauty-of-a-butte sports easy road access and towers a few hundred feet over the surrounding farmlands. It’s the Weathertop of the Palouse, except with ugly radio towers instead of rustic castle ruins. It’s also an international destination for photographers, a popular paragliding area, and home to a variety of wildlife. Even Stevie Wonder could go here and pop off a few rounds with the point-and-shoot and come back with some good wallhangers. So even if you’re not a very good landscape shooter like myself, the place is worth a visit. So I stop in every once in a while.
My original motivation for going was to get some moonlight shots of the Palouse so I left late and showed up during the golden hour (*enter voices of angel choir*). I was digging the light but was totally unprepared for the shock-and-awe of photo ops that would ensue within just 30 minutes. Most are mediocre shots, not worthy of Dr. Benjamin R. Bowen’s (DDS) ceiling but it’s just crazy how in the right time, lighting, and place, everything moves and breathes with renewed beauty and becomes the potential subject of a masterpiece. I said “potential”.
7:44:33 PM — I pullover after the first big bend to check out the view and before I can get out of my truck an effing moose is running by 60 feet away. First rad event.
7:55:38 — Take a couple quick landscapes.
8:03:18 PM — I decide to drive around the corner because the light is going. What do we find? A paraglider is walking up the hill surrounded by wildflowers.
8:03:44 PM — I turn to my left and Mr. Roger’s brother is taking landscapes.
8:04:10 PM — I look over my shoulder, another paraglider swoops by. Also the full moon is rising.
8:06:26 PM — I follow up with a few more landscapes, the whole time floored by the beauty of my backyard and the world we get to taste for just a few years. A lifetime of beauty in 30 minutes.